Last weekend, Saturday Night Live had a fun sketch centered around Farrow & Ball paint.  They poked fun at an old British paint brand (that actually exists, who knew?!), the cost for said paint, and how its purchase would inspire someone to emphasize the U in colour and labour. It was one of the sillier – and more memorable – sketches of the episode.

While it was a parody of a hoity-toity British paint brand, it also was essentially a four minute commercial for Farrow & Ball.  Their traffic and social media got a spike of attention.  Apparently they were unaware of the sketch in advance, and didn’t control the messaging.  But they also wouldn’t have been able to purchase a four minute informercial in the middle of SNL either.

A few years ago, SNL made headlines for some pieces of branded content they were commissioned (i.e. paid) to integrate into the show.  We’re so conditioned these days to stroll along the fine line between organic and paid content that we doesn’t seem to bat an eye when we’re being marketed to when watching a piece of quality content.  Nevertheless, it seems that a more impactful piece of content that involves a brand is best when the creators create it without any input or investment from the brand itself.  The brand just needs to be cool with it, and the creator’s platform (in this case NBC/SNL) needs to be large enough for it to have resonance.

What do you think – is product placement actually product placement if the brand has nothing to do with it?  Would you allow your brand to be parodied if it brought it attention?